Joshua Carloni: (603) 868-1095
Cheri Patterson: (603) 868-1095
June 24, 2020

Watch for drifters when on coastal waters this summer

Durham, NH – New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Marine Division, the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells, Maine, the University of New Hampshire, and Saint Joseph’s College of Maine (the Collaborative) are working cooperatively to determine how warming ocean waters influence the migratory movements of female lobsters carrying eggs. Of special interest is the impact this might have on the ability of larval-stage lobsters to recruit (return) to inshore nursery grounds. The project’s working hypothesis is that females will seek colder water by moving further offshore, which may influence where the larvae are transported by the ocean’s currents.

To better test this theory, the Collaborative will deploy ocean drifters, which are free-floating buoys that glide along on the oceans currents for the purpose of collecting various forms of data such as meteorological information and water temperature. The Collaborative hopes these drifters will mimic how lobster larvae drift from four different locations that range from 4-26 km (2-16 miles) from the coastline of New Hampshire.

The Collaborative will deploy 24 drifters before the beginning of July and will be reliant on the public and the fishing industry to recognize and not disturb them. These drifters will be largely submerged in the water, their tops floating just above the surface, and each will be equipped with a GPS unit and an orange flashing light. Because lobster larvae are typically in the water column for almost 30 days before they settle to the bottom, it is important to ensure that the drifters also spend at least a month in the water. If you see one before August 1 of this year, please leave it in the water. If you see one after August 1, the Collaborative would appreciate your help in the retrieval of this equipment. There will be a phone number on the unit that you can call or text so arrangements can be made to retrieve the equipment from you.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the Collaborative appreciate the public’s assistance with this important research and will be happy to share information with the industry on how these drifters move through the Gulf of Maine once the data are processed.

To learn more about the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Marine Division’s research work visit